A new cultureFounders Rachita Sharma and Sameer Somal didn’t just start a marketing firm, but also a social enterprise aiming to change workplace culture. Photo courtesy of Girl Power Talk

This India-based group with global hires is revolutionizing workplace culture for good reasons. Here’s how they do it.

Đỗ Thủy Vân recalled an internship for which they signed up.

This Vietnamese communication multimedia undergrad was initially assigned just three months’ work but ended up being extended to six months, and then a year. They also did tasks not in the contract, prompting them to be more discerning when job seeking.

They came across a recruitment post by Girl Power Talk, a marketing solutions social enterprise headquartered in India. Founded in 2019, the company hires individuals from around the globe to work in an integrated remote setup.

As a marketing firm offering advertising services and branding strategies, Girl Power Talk’s staffers often deal directly with representatives of client companies. Being a social enterprise, its workers are more than just employees. They are not just beneficiaries, but partners in a project that aims to remodel workplace culture.

As of press time, Vân now works full-time with Girl Power Talk. They said they recently bought a birthday gift for themselves with money they earned from working with the firm. 

Vân said, “Working here has given me financial independence.”

Not a scam, after all

Initially, when Vân saw the Girl Power Talk ad, they thought it was fake.

“We thought it was a scam. It looked too good to be true,” other members of Girl Power Talk concurred in a Zoom call with this writer.

Also in the call were four Filipinos, a Ugandan, and an Indian team member. All are under 30. Some of them are still finishing college, just like Vân. 

Global mingling. With the easing of travel restrictions, Girl Power Talk members from around the world were able to meet up recently in Manila. The company prioritizes employee relationships as much as skill. Photo courtesy of Girl Power Talk

Their young and diverse team has responsibilities that transcend those typically afforded to young professionals. For example, some of them in this call were part of the screening and interview committee for new Girl Power Talk applicants.

The culture

Several narratives emerged from the call. One, it is safe to make mistakes, big or small, and learn from them. Two, one’s colleagues are a source of comfort and friendship. And three, a handsome compensation package comes with flexible tasks.

Girl Power Talk believes that affording freedom in the workplace is beneficial to the business as a whole and in the long term. The belief is that happiness, purpose, and giving everyone a voice create a more innovative and productive environment. 

Work improves when employees feel like active co-creators of a company and more than just cogs in a machine. Social and economic theorists in the Enlightenment centuries first suggested this thinking. Economists and management strategists later confirmed the same in the 20th and 21st centuries.

This insight has yet to root itself in workplaces with cultures steeped in practices revolving around hierarchy where individual welfare remains secondary.

Transform the workplace

But even then, this can be interpreted as an appeal to enlightened self-interest. Co-founders Rachita Sharma and Sameer Somal want to go further. They want to revolutionize the work environment for humane reasons. Somal shares that part of what inspired the ethos of Girl Power Talk was his experience as a new hire in corporate America.

Youth voice. Drawing from his experiences as a new hire in corporate America, Somal believes in seeing young people as equals not to be talked down upon. Photo courtesy of Girl Power Talk.

“I started working [at] a department I never thought I’d be working in,” said Muskan Purohit, who was also part of the group call, not with regret; but with amazement at her ability to live up to the task. “I’ve since become a more confident person.” The rest of the group echoed this outlook.

There is a valid criticism that internships are just another form of cheap or even free labor. At Girl Power Talk, it’s different–they cherish the development of remote, part-time interns in developing economies, who typically earn between 100 to 400 USD monthly. Compensation increases with capability, contribution, and responsibilities assumed.

The testimonies shared by the group suggested that, in Girl Power Talk, additional work also underscores a sense of empowerment. This comes from the knowledge that one isn’t just paid, but also upskilled and affirmed for their unique contributions.

Somal believes: “You have to treat young people like adults. One of the frustrating things about being young and bright is that [people do not take] you seriously.”

Mental health matters

Moreover, mental health is critical at Girl Power Talk.

Maria Osorio, a Filipina working with the team, said that members can share responsibilities and fill in for other members who are not at their best mentally at times. 

Other companies do not consider mental health a valid reason to request breaks or explain moments of lagging performance. Applicants with these companies often hesitate to disclose mental health concerns as this may harm prospects, observes Somal and others in the call.

Finally, those in the call shared that they see one another more like friends than colleagues. While this may be nothing new in a work setting, this is not a friendship based on shared suffering but shared empowerment, sans the ubiquitous office politicking.

Building this culture is being made possible partly with the help of a questionnaire that applicants accomplish. More than merit, more than skill, according to Somal, this questionnaire filters for their character. 

Notably, the first two weeks at Girl Power Talk for any new hire are focused on learning about the culture and getting to know other young leaders; rather than being assigned to the standard training programs. Because transparency is part of their culture, problems do not worsen because they address them collaboratively early on.

Indeed, Girl Power Talk is more than a business, more than a social enterprise. It is arguably a revolution. 

By Pao Vergara

His works have appeared in Rappler, across Inquirer.net publications, Philippine Tatler, and ANC-X. He regularly contributes to NoliSoli.PH, Art Plus Magazine, and the Manila Bulletin's Philippine Panorama magazine. He has also helped produce several short films screened locally and abroad. He was an AB Communication graduate in 2016 at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. When not covering culture, society, and lifestyle, he's training to be a cat whisperer. Now, if only elephants were endemic to the Philippines...

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